Professor Tessa Murphy

Excerpt from The Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs faculty website

Tessa Murphy’s research and teaching interests lie in the history of the colonial Americas, broadly defined to include the Caribbean, Central and South America, and what are now Canada and the United States. Her research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, France’s Institut National d’Études Démographiques, the John Carter Brown Library, the David Library of the American Revolution, and the Clements Library.

This support allowed her to pursue work on her first book, "The Creole Archipelago: Race and Borders in the Colonial Caribbean" (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021). The book traces British and French attempts to assimilate or remake colonial societies that evolved beyond the boundaries of European empire in the early modern Americas. “The Creole Archipelago,” a Choice Outstanding Academic Title, won the 2022 James A. Rawley Prize in Atlantic History from the American Historical Association, the 2023 Elsa Goveia Biennial Book Prize from the Association for Caribbean History, the Biennial Book Prize from the Forum on Early-Modern Empires and Global Interactions, and the 2022 Mary Alice and Philip Boucher Book Prize from the Society for French Colonial History. The book also earned Honorable Mention for the 2022 Gilbert Chinard Prize from the Society for French Historical Studies.

With the support of a multi-year New Directions Fellowship from the Mellon Foundation, she is now at work on a book and associated digital humanities project that uses British colonial registries to shed light on the lives and genealogies of people enslaved on the plantation frontiers of the British Caribbean during the Age of Abolition. She offers courses on the colonial, revolutionary and early republican Americas; the Atlantic World; and comparative slavery and emancipation.

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